Bipartisan Bill to Control Health Care Costs Backed by White House

TUESDAY, Dec. 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- A bipartisan measure meant to control rising health care costs for Americans -- including limiting "surprise" medical bills -- has the backing of the White House.

The measure would introduce a system of arbitration for disputes over surprise bills, which patients can face if they're unknowingly treated in emergency rooms by health care providers who aren't in their insurance networks, NBC News reported.

It would also would limit some out-of-pocket costs for patients hit with surprise bills.

Other items in the measure include steps to limit prescription drug price increases and provide $20 billion over five years for community health centers, which offer medical care to millions of low-income earners in thousands of towns.

Another part of the measure would increase the federal minimum age for buying tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21, according to House and Senate aides, NBC News reported.

The measure represents "months of delicate work" and there has been hope that Congress would approve it this year, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

However, it's uncertain whether the bill can approved in the two weeks before Congress is scheduled to adjourn for the year, NBC News reported.

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